The Short Winter

I’m about to say something that feels a bit dangerous. And perhaps even subversive, but maybe it just needs to be said.
Wait? You thought I was going to say something political? About the current political landscape? About the nasty, distasteful, harrowing, embarrassing election process we are currently in? Nope. Not going to go there. I find myself embracing that old adage that religion and politics are not things discussed in polite society. Or you know, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, which seem to have pretty much replaced the functions of polite society. Except for the polite part. To be clear, I’m not ashamed of my politics, or my religion for that matter. I’m a lifelong Democrat, and certainly a lifelong Jew. If you want to know my specific thoughts on how each of those things shapes my thinking and decisions, and who I’m voting for, call me. Happy to discuss, respectfully, courteously, intelligently. But I’m not going to post anything insulting the opposition, as much as they dismay me. Nor am I going to assume if you disagree with me, that you must be wrong. Not how I roll.
Okay, back to my initial statement. Here goes. I’m kind of disappointed in this whole winter thing. I had built it up in my mind as this big scary drama, and it turned out to be more like a weenie little skit. I mean, I was a Girl Scout! I was an earthquake phobic living in Southern California. Be Prepared was not only my motto, it was stitched in my psyche! You Guys, I had pots of soup in the freezer! Emergency ice cream supplies. A battery operated radio. Batteries. A lot of wine. A lot!
I confess, my visions of what winter would be like might have been based on skewed data. First of all, the last two years, especially last year, have been some of the harshest New England winters on record. Last year, there were 106 record breaking, soul crushing inches of snow. Roofs collapsed, power was lost, people died. It was serious.
My other concept of winter was based on The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the Little House on the Prairie series. But this is no gentle story with Pa and Ma and the girls romping around in the Big Woods. This is the somewhat harrowing tale, based on Wilder’s true life adventures, of the winter (1880-1881) where she and her family almost starved to death, as unending blizzards cut her small town off from all supplies for 8(!) months. Here’s a quote to make you shiver:
“There were no more lessons. There was nothing in the world but cold and dark and work and coarse brown bread and winds blowing.”
Chilling, right?
So, let’s talk about this winter, my first real winter, ever. Southern California doesn’t have winters, just days that are hot, days that are very hot, days that are warm, and days that are less warm. We get excited if it drops down to the 60s and we can wear those cute sweaters we couldn’t help but buying. I actually bought a warm coat about 20 years ago (I was traveling back East) and it’s still like new, it’s been so infrequently worn.
I’m not saying there hasn’t been cold this winter. There has! For a few days around Valentine’s Day, the temperatures were below zero, during the day. I didn’t think it was possible for humanity to survive in weather that cold, but we all did. And there have been many more days in the 20s, 30s and 40s. There have been some snow storms too, a few really good ones and several more that covered the ground and caused traffic hassles and had me shoveling. We’ve had a few “snow days” where we all stayed home and worked remotely because it wasn’t safe to be on the roads. So winter has come, but it was one of the warmest and mildest in history. And now, according to the news reports I watch so anxiously, it’s almost over. And surprisingly, at least to me, it hasn’t been that bad. I expected to have a much harder time acclimatizing.
It sounds weird, and ungrateful, and even, as I said up top, a little dangerous for me to say this. Far be it for me to taunt and tempt the weather Gods, but it’s a little anticlimactic. I thought it would be more, bigger. I was pretty scared going in, with those Long Winter ideas in my head. I anticipated days at a time, stranded. Having no power and having to huddle in a blanket and read by my handy electric lanterns (repurposed from the earthquake supplies). And while I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to that, there was a certain coziness indicated that seemed compelling. I didn’t want a repeat of last winter, by any means! But I may not have minded a few days of enforced inaction. As long as the food supplies held out. And the wine.
This is all a bit tongue in cheek, of course it’s a very good thing I was eased in to this new climate. I’m sure if we have a harsh winter next year, I will be complaining loudly, and whimpering for warmth. But it kind of reminds me of the fig tree back home. For 2 months every year, it was a nightmare of plummeting figgy fruit. A huge mess and inconvenience that had to be dealt with several times a day. I lamented, I bitched, I moaned, I swore to cut the tree down and be done with it. But then the season would be over, life would return to unsticky normalcy and I would forget all about it.
Like the fig season, winter comes to a gentle end, and spring waits to unfurl. Soon I can put the gloves, shovels and mittens away and enjoy the beauty and warmth that New England has to offer. I can’t wait, but I swear I won’t forget that winter will surely come again, and next time, it could be a doozy of a long one.
The end, for now

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